HARVARD -- In their annual planning session, selectmen reflected on a number of goals set for fiscal 2014 and discussed goals for next fiscal year. Selectmen took no votes, but debated a number of different topics.
FY14 Goal: Department audits
Selectman Ron Ricci said this goal fell by the wayside. Town Administrator Tim Bragan provided a rough cost estimate of $7,000 to $10,000 per department audit.
Selectmen settled on working on operational audits for the fire department, police, department of public works and ambulance service.
"We'll look at the financial impacts and do it for fiscal 2016 and start with one, and we can figure that out as the year goes on," he said.
Selectman Lucy Wallace suggested looking into whether the town could get a discount if it conducted two one year and two the next year.
FY14 Goal: Outbound communication with building projects and financial situation
Wallace said there was a lot of information at meetings as to what was going on with the latest building projects.
"We relied on the press, we relied on the TV coverage," she said. "We certainly don't have a budget for pushing mail."
Selectman Leo Blair suggested periodically holding question-and-answer sessions, or press conferences.
Selectman Chair Stu Sklar said the idea made sense, and said it's very frustrating standing at the microphone asking questions and not getting answers right away.
"I'd like to do it," he said. "In our form of government it's hard to get that kind of dialogue."
Blair suggested holding one to test the idea.
FY14 Goal: Outbound communication with Joint Boards of Selectmen, MassDevelopment
Blair, Harvard's current representative to the JBOS, noted that in the last few weeks, JBOS has started to ask MassDevelopment for minutes from their board meetings.
"We actually got their minutes from one of their meetings where their chief financial officer presented to the board their contingent exit strategy for 2019," he said.
Blair said for the first time, there's a real dialogue, noting that JBOS also received revenue and cash flow projections for Devens.
"What I said to them is we can play nice, I'll ask, you'll give, or we'll do Freedom of Information Act requests on you all the time," he said.
Blair said the group wants to know everything.
"We're really starting to get an understanding of what is really going on there," he said.
Potential goal: Funding for COA
"I believe that there is a much increased demand for services from the Council on Aging," Blair told the board. "Part of it might be Bowers Brook, part of it might be the aging population in town."
He said the standard three percent increase for the council is not going to work, and thinks the COA will need $100,000 or more for services, specifically social work.
Wallace said the board could ask the COA to put together a list of long-term needs and a projection of its operational budget over the next five years.
Ricci said the board should focus on people who are homebound, those who have a physical need for services.
"If we're going to ask for more money, I think we ought to focus on the people who really need it," he said.
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